The Hive

This writing below was originally written for the Timegate to Tomorrow writing competition. It has been selected to be part of the anthology to be published in June. Additional editing contributed by Lee Murray.

Lights flicker, piercing my closed eyelids. I gasp and claw desperately at the air. I’m lying on an operating table. I look down. A faded turquoise hospital gown masks my frail body. My limbs are sallow and unattractive. They’re all there, but they don’t feel like they are. My heart stutters and thuds. I hear it, although the room is silent. A shiver runs through my body. There’s movement in the corner of my eye. Suddenly, two men in white uniforms stand over me. Lights flicker again and I am dragged back to sleep.

The room brightens. My eyes slowly open. Same room, but it’s empty. How have I ended up here? A humming interrupts my train of thought. I lower myself off the operating table and onto the ground. My legs have more colour than before, but making my way to the door is more difficult than I expected. Each step on the frigid lino floor sends pain spiralling up my body.

After clumsily crawling to the door, I look back to survey the room. I remember that my name is Oscar, but I have no clue as to my whereabouts. At first, I suspected I was in a local hospital, but my room has no windows. It’s some sort of isolated surgery cell.

The door opens into a corridor that reveals rows of cells like mine. I peer closer, startled by continuous movement in a few of them.

I drag myself down the corridor looking for someone who can explain everything. This maze of a structure is repetitive and daunting. It’s a medical centre with lots of operating rooms and offices. I decide against going into any of them, though. The vibe of the place isn’t right. There are no people like a normal hospital and the talk within the surgery cells is practically inaudible. The walls are painted deep blue with scars of mistreatment and neglect. This building has a form of eeriness that no paint job can fix.

I explore further and glimpse a teenage boy roughly the same age as me. He’s being escorted down a hallway. I assume his two female companions are surgeons. They tug roughly at his weak body every so often as they walk him deeper into the building. His pale green eyes dart to me. Whatever they’re doing with him can’t be humane.

“Excuse me, where am I?” I cry out to them. My voice breaks with unease.

They stop dead in their tracks. Heads swivel in unison. I tremble as the boy drops to the floor like a dead body. The women focus on me with hardened stares. They advance in my direction. One reaches out with a needle. She thrusts it into my side. I slump to the ground. Lights flash and fade again before I’m plunged into darkness.

My eyes open to nothing. After feeling with my hands, I determine I’m on a leather sofa. Shuffling emerges from the opposite side of the room. Someone takes a blindfold off my face. I blink at the brightly lit office. I’ve been changed out of the hospital gown into a t-shirt and jeans.

The man introduces himself as Kent. “Hello,” he says with a modest smile. “I would like to welcome you to The Venerated Order.”

He pauses and I wonder if I’m meant to respond in a specific way. I smile nervously.

“What do you remember, Oscar?” Kent asks.

I cast my eyes to the floor. “The cold and hunger were unbearable. The old, the young, and the ill were the first to perish. The young, fitter people like me lasted a few weeks longer but it drove people to insanity waiting for the inevitable. We saw the devastating effect the Global Cooling Experiment had on the planet, and we knew it was only a matter of time. But I don’t understand. It feels warm in here and I don’t feel hungry at all.”

Kent smiles reassuringly and says, “You’re safe now and you’re very much alive. The Global Cooling Experiment, had good intentions to rid the planet of decades of ozone layer depletion and uncontrollable heat. But the scientists got ahead of themselves and ended up plunging mankind into an icy underworld. You died 493 years ago, probably not long after your family and the rest of the population. The few who remained were called The Survivors. Their descendants lived through The Thaw around 250 years ago, when the Earth returned to greenery and life. Those people are now known as The Venerated Order Royal Family and we owe our lives to them.”

I don’t move a move a muscle. I stifle a gasp. My hands are clenched onto the sofa

Kent continues, “In the early years of The Thaw, the Royals lived in a small community and were largely self-sufficient but as The Thaw intensified they saw an opportunity to create a new world order. An order that would be unshackled and free of the imperfections known in the Old World. Within the Royals, there were brilliant scientists who were able to create laboratories to reconstruct humans using DNA genome remnants found in the melted ice. This is your second chance, Oscar. You’ve been rebirthed from your old DNA.”

My mind swells with questions. “So you are simply bringing people back to life from their DNA?” I blurt

Kent laughs, like a pompous father laughs at a naïve child. “The Royals are more than brilliant scientists. They are visionary and community-minded. They also developed advanced screening techniques which allowed them to choose whose DNA would be put into suspended animation and rebirthed. Every time a Worker brought back a new piece of DNA, it would be screened for compatibility. You see, the Venerated Order reconstruction efforts focus on the physically strong, but intellectually weak. These are the Workers who build the world in the Royals’ vision. There are then the Drones; a much smaller number who are reconstructed to be loyal to the Royals and oversee the Workers. So you see there are only really 2 types of people in the new order; Workers and Drones.”

My shock and disgust gives way to the inevitable question. “So what am I?” I ask.

“You are neither, Oscar.” Kent grins.

“Your DNA is the first to reveal genetic ties to the original survivors. Oscar, you are born royalty…”

The writing above was originally written by Josh Buddhdev, published on 12/06/2018.

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